New podcast on brown bears

Biotopia’s Naturpodden has released a podcast in Swedish about when Emil Nilsson and I searched for brown bears in Wild Nordic‘s hideout.

Please see the introduction video here below, and the full podcast (again, in Swedish) can be found here: http://www.biotopia.nu/37-sara-och-bjornarna/

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Searching for brown bears in Gävleborg

Something approaches.

The brown bear is the largest land-dwelling carnivore in Sweden. It can weigh up to 350 kg and feeds on a mix of berries, ants and moose calves. On Monday 3 April, I traveled up north to Gävleborg to spot for this large amazing carnivore.

Sara Wennerqvist has a hideout for brown bears and this is where I went. Joining me is Emil Nilsson from Biotopia. We park the car on a dirt road next to a stream out in the forest. As the roads have just begun thawing we cannot go the ordinary way. Instead, we pack our equipment into rucksacks and begin walking along a trail. We pretty soon come across old tracks of brown bear in the little snow that still remains. The weather is typical for April, sunny and springlike with birds chirping in the ambience and ravens floating about high up in the air.

The small windows on the hut offer a 270 degree panoramic view of the surroundings.

After trekking for two and a half kilometers we see even more bear tracks. This time they are between one to two days old. And the good thing: The hideout is just nearby.

Emil and I go into the reconstructed little hut at around 16:00, and after installing ourselves, sitting in our sleeping bags with cameras ready to use, we begin what will become a silent night, whispering and being as still as we can in order not to scare animals away. We begin spotting intensively at the surroundings through the thin glass windows of the hut.

A big brown bear, probably weighing in excess of 200 kg.

An hour goes by and we are joined by even more ravens floating around. Several woodpeckers play on the branch of a tree to our left. Apart from this, we have not seen anything.

Another hour goes by. Now the sun is very low, its beautiful warm colors blanketing the pine trees around us. I am thinking that it is quite joyful sitting here spotting. Then suddenly, like out of nowhere, I see a big dark shadow approaching cautiously from the left! Like struck by a reality check I quickly poke Emil who is looking elsewhere, giving him a sharp look and a thumbs up. He can’t see the creature from where he is sitting. Cautiously I take out my smaller camera to get ready. It is a brown bear. A big brown bear.

The male with the bright head dashes off just before it gets too dark to take photographs.

25 meters. 20 meters. It approaches slowly and cautiously. I can see that it is worried about something. Is it us? Can it see us, hear us or smell us? It does not seem to react when I take pictures or whisper to Emil, so maybe it is not us it is worried about. The bear finds some of the food that Sara has hidden underneath a rock and runs away as soon as it got what it came for.

But it soon comes back. 25 meters. 20 meters. 15 meters. 10 meters. Now Emil can see it, too. Suddenly the big bear is right in front of us – only ten meters away. They are very powerful animals. I can see its muscular body as it sniffs and searches for something to eat. We can see this bear on and off for about 30 minutes before it vanishes into the dense forest.

The hideout, with Emil’s parabolic recorder fitted by one of the hatches. It allows us to hear everything that goes on even hundreds of meters away.

Then only half an hour later there is another dark shadow approaching from the left. This one does not seem as anxious as the first. It knows where to look to find its food. Its head is surprisingly bright and it has a dark body. This bear is probably the reason the first one was so cautious. The big brown creature accompanies us on and off for the rest of the night, sometimes approaching only up to ten meters. It does not seem bothered by our presence, and it might not even notice us.

Later on, as several hours have passed and just as I am about to go to bed, Emil whispers that he can hear something through his parabolic sound recorder. He can hear steps in the undergrowth. An animal is coming closer. It is the bear coming up one last time before we call it a night, and before it is too dark to see something. By this time, all I can see is a big dark shadow, lumbering around outside of the hut. And then just like that – it is gone.

If you are curious of trying this, please see http://www.wildnordic.se for more information.

New snow leopard exhibition in Uppsala

ustallning-gottsundaBetween 16 February and 9 March you can find mine and Jan Fleischmann’s snow leopard exhibition at the Gottsunda Library in southern Uppsala.

The exhibition has 16 pictures of both snow leopards, its prey, people who share its land in the mountains as well as persons working with snow leopards. If you happen to be passing by, please drop by to have a look!utstallning-i-gottsunda-foto-jonatan-borling

Two videos on identifying lynx and wolf tracks

jonatan-vargspar

In this video I show how to identify wolf tracks in snow.

Biotopia and Natursidan.se have release two videos with me on how to identify lynx and wolf tracks. The videos are in Swedish and you can watch them in the links below.

http://www.natursidan.se/nyheter/naturfilm-sa-kanner-du-igen-spar-efter-lodjur/

http://www.natursidan.se/nyheter/naturfilm-lar-dig-kanna-igen-vargspar/

Article on border fencing

gransstangsel

The article about border fencing is in Swedish.

In the latest issue of Våra Rovdjur (nr 4/2016), you can read my article about border fencing and how it affects wildlife, and large carnivores in particular. The article is based on interviews with Mae Isaksson, who lives near the border fence in Croatia, and John Linnell at NINA in Norway.

 

Persian leopards are being reintroduced to Europe.

Persian leopards are being reintroduced to Europe.

Also, in the previous issue (nr 3/2016), there is an article about the Persian leopard, which is being reintroduced to Europe. This article is based on interviews with José Ferreira at Lisbon Zoo and Ewa Wikberg at Nordens Ark.

Expedition Brazil 2016 – Caatinga

Claudia collects scats from puma one day in September.

Claudia collects scats from puma one day in September.

For 21 days straight we have been trying to collar jaguars and pumas in Caatinga in eastern Brazil. Luck was not on our side this time. This has led to a change of plans in the expedition.

I am right now on my way out of Brazil after having spent more than five weeks here preparing for the capture campaign, taking pictures, preparing my study and – most importantly – we have been trying to collar jaguars and pumas here.

Together with team leader Claudia and the two experienced veterinarians Joares and Carlão, as well as Douglas, Neto and Ismael from Programa Amigos da Onça, we have been setting snares to collar the cats.

The area in which we work is vast and there are only very few roads and trails.

The area in which we work is vast and there are only very few roads and trails.

We worked in the vast area that is Boqueirão da Onça – a wild area of more than 8 000 km². The area is dry, thorny and dense. We have had temperatures of between 35-40 degrees Celsius for most days. Luckily the dry air makes the heat feel less intense.

In preparing the field campaign we had to bring nearly a ton of water out to the field camp, and food for seven people for a month. The capturing campaign has also been preceded by extensive work with camera traps especially over the past year by Claudia and her team, in order to see where the animals move.

Claudia and Carlão mount a radio transmitter which lets us see from the camp when an animal has stepped in the snare.

Claudia and Carlão mount a radio transmitter which lets us see from the camp when an animal has stepped in the snare.

Since the jaguar population in the area is sparse, you have to be a bit lucky even with all these preparations. We did see tracks of jaguar just a couple of days before we put out the first snares. Then after that – quiet.

Luckily, there will be another capturing campaign in November, followed by another one in the first half of next year. If everything goes according to plan, the team should be able to collar the first jaguars in Boqueirão da Onça leading us to greater knowledge and very important tools for conserving the animals in this environment.

The change in plans mean that I will return here to Brazil in the first half of 2017 to continue the work once the team has successfully collared at least one cat.

One evening Joares mimics the sound of a jaguar, hoping to catch their attention.

Meanwhile, I have been very happy to see that the crowdfunding campaign has received full funding! I wish to thank everybody that has helped out and I am looking forward to making this important work happen in 2017! Thank you once again!

And also, thank you very much for this time, Brazil, and see you soon.